St. Anthony's knew it wouldn't be easy without the services of star running back Jordan Gowins. But the loss of Gowins, who sat with a balky hamstring, wasn't what hurt the Friars as they returned to New Rochelle for the first time since their last regular-season CHSFL loss -- all the way back on Sept. 15, 2012.
In the end, it was the Friars' lack of answers for the Gaels' pass rush that sacked quarterback Steven Genova eight times, plus a dominant performance by Iona Prep quarterback Robert Madison that added up to a 40-30 loss Sunday.
The Gaels took over midway through the third quarter as the Friars (3-1) could not slow down Madison and his stable of receivers, including 6-4 Qaadir Sheppard, who caught 11 passes for 157 yards and three touchdowns. Sheppard also had three sacks at defensive end. Madison went 32-for-48 for 394 yards and five touchdowns.
"I thought they exposed us with some of the secondary stuff," St. Anthony's coach Rich Reichert said. "[Sheppard] was a mismatch for us. We'll figure it out and hopefully we can play them again and figure some things out."
Evan Killen was extremely effective in replacing Gowins' explosiveness. The senior ran for 93 yards and three touchdowns on just eight carries a week after scoring twice on just three carries. Jordan Williams added 105 yards on 11 carries.
"[Gowins] has been on and off all year, so it's something we have to deal with," Reichert said. "Now I think our guys have more experience but they still have to get better each week."
After trailing 13-10 at halftime, things were looking up for St. Anthony's after its first drive of the second half. Josh Jefferson recovered a Stephon Smith fumble that ended Iona Prep's first drive and the dynamic Killen capped off the ensuing drive with a 33-yard touchdown run that put the Friars back in front.
Iona Prep (3-1) answered with a 10-play drive that ended with a 13-yard touchdown pass to Sheppard but the Friars took the lead again after Killen scampered in from 13 yards on the next drive.
But after that, it was all Iona Prep. It ran off three straight scoring drives, each capped by Madison touchdown strikes.
Genova found James Pryor for a 52-yard touchdown in the game's final minute but a failed two-point conversion sealed it.
"I thought we could still win it without [Gowins]," Genova said. "We just have to do a better job, starting with me."